22 Mar

Nine Key Takeaways from the Data & AI Symposium

Tom Jenkin

Mesh-AI’s inaugural summit brought together a community of the best transformation leaders and technical minds in the enterprise for a full day of captivating talks, engaging panel debates, and hands-on workshops. 

Over 150 people from enterprise across multiple industries came to hear insights from leading minds across business, technology and politics. Here are the biggest takeaways from each session across the day.

#1 The Data & AI Opportunity for the UK: Why We Must Act Now 

“Let’s first prepare the data, then learn to share the data, and then we can start using AI and you thinking about regulation” Marzia Zafar, Deputy Director for Data & Digital Governance, Ofgem.
“If we get regulation right, it’s always a driver of growth and opportunities.” Lord Holmes, Select Committee for Science & Technology.

Lord Holmes gave his insight on the drive to grasp the opportunity presented by data and AI, a point echoed by Ofgem’s Marzia Zafar, Icebreaker One’s Gavin Starks and the UK Government's CDO Craig Suckling. All agreed that there is an imperative need for the UK to remain competitive while navigating the complex economic and social challenges and benefits.

#2 The Steps to Building a Winning Data Culture in the Enterprise

“No one does data for data’s sake, it’s an enabler.” Myrna Macgregor, Principal Data Strategist, Ocado Technology.

Implementing a data-driven culture that helps drive innovation and accelerated growth is critical given the far-reaching impact of AI. With a range of disciplines and skill sets within every enterprise, educating the workforce and driving an uplift in quality is a difficult task but one made more simple with a clear strategy. 

#3 The Data & AI Opportunity To Deliver Net Zero

“Data only has a value when it travels.”

The journey to decarbonise the UK economy is reaching a critical juncture, as the race to meet ambitious net zero targets accelerates. Speakers from across the energy industry discussed the opportunities presented by data and AI innovation to power the clean energy transition and reduce emissions across the industry. All agreed that the industry is turning from making ambitious ideas into real-world deliverables, and organisations who make the cost of what is available now will thrive in the future. 

#4 The AI Enabled Financial Services Sector of the Future

“Data is King, data should be at the front of all our lives.” Martin O’Gorman, Head of Data Science, Parameta Solutions.

We enjoyed the insight from a range of experts across the Financial Services industry, with speakers from M&G, Stripe and Parameta Solutions. They discussed the immediate and long-term impact AI will have on the industry. From tackling fraud to improving customer experience, trading insights and informing decision makers, the opportunities for the industry appear endless. 

#5 Building a Modern Self-Service Data Capability to Help Britain Achieve Net Zero

“The tech is not the most important thing, the people are. It doesn't matter how you organise, it matters how you collaborate.” Martin Aylward, Head of Tech - Wholesale Market Services, EDF.

This presentation from EDF’s Martin Aylward demonstrated their use of data to help the organisation strive towards net zero. From utilising AWS platforms, to the specific use cases data and AI can enable, Martin’s learnings from EDF’s journey over the last couple of years were incredibly insightful. 

#6 Women in Data & AI: Why Organisations Need Diversity in Tech More Than Ever

“Unconscious bias only becomes a problem when people fail to acknowledge it and don't take steps to counter it.” Clementine Whitcomb, Data Engineer, EDF.

Diversity is an integral consideration not only for the output of AI systems, but also for the teams and data behind the curtain. We were thrilled to hear from EDF’s Clementine Whitcomb, M&G’s Siobhan Coster and Monzo’s Valeria Cortez on how organisations can ensure the teams behind their technologies are diverse, design with transparency and fairness top of mind, and acquire talent to ensure the teams behind these technologies are diverse.

#7 Unlocking Business Value with Digital, Data & Machine Learning at National Grid Ventures

“Subsea cables are important to our everyday lives and the risks to them are increasing. We’re using ML to transform how we protect them.” Ben Gill, Lead Product Manager, National Grid Ventures.

National Grid Ventures are building an exciting new AI-enabled proposition to revolutionise how they design and build subsea interconnections. Called Ocean Brain, the project will unlock untold new value for the business. Ben Gill leads the project, and shared his insight on the crucial role data and machine learning have played in this journey.

#8 The Product-Centric Organisation, Orienting Towards Outcomes with Data & AI

“While product people believe anything is possible, it actually isn’t if your data foundations aren’t right.” Sheen Yap, VP of Product, Signal AI.

Ensuring AI projects prioritise the end user requires a product thinking approach. Organisations are increasingly embedding this concept in their day to day operations to ensure their investments are worthwhile and deliver value for the business. A panel of product experts from National Grid, Signal AI, The Bank of London and National Grid Ventures shared their advice for how organisations can take practical steps to create market leading propositions and transform how they operate with data and AI. 

#9 Managing the Emerging AI Risk Landscape in the Enterprise

"Rules make the game fun. They’re not there to constrain the fun. They’re there to allow more risk, not less.” Luke Vilain, Data Ethics Specialist, UBS.

We find ourselves in a fast changing landscape thanks to the pace of AI innovation and adoption. Amid all this, there is an increased awareness of moves by regulators. This has made some enterprises jittery as the exact impact on AI investments and initiatives is still unclear. 

Our panel of leaders demonstrated clear principles of a well governed data organisation, complete with risk management practices, democratised data and risk frameworks. They all agreed to truly capture any of the opportunities mentioned across the day, tackling regulation and potential risks was a cornerstone of any successful organisation. 

An enormous thank you to all our speakers and attendees for making the event a huge success!

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